What IS IT with me an airplanes this year? Everything went so well last year, but this conference, air transport was a nightmare.
My morning started out downhill: I woke up earlier than I'd wanted to, with my seasonal allergies suddenly at full-tilt. Stuffed-up nose, sneezing, and honking. I cleared up somewhat by ordering room-service waffles with strawberries and whipped cream and a big ol' carafe of tea. The waffle had the Dolphin emblem on it!
Waffles aside, it was sad to finally pack all of my things. I took all my Goody swag with me, but all my lovely books had been sent by ground-service mail, which means I probably won't be seeing them until September. More time to chip away at the rest of my TBR, though, right?
While eating my waffle, I also went over my hotel bill and goggled at my phone charges - which included several calls under a minute that ended up being priced $20 each. For phone calls I made to people who didn't even pick up. I'd been using the hotel phone instead of my cell phone because I thought the Dolphin provided 20 minutes free long-distance.
However, this was the day I learned that long distance calls and international calls are different things. Thankfully, a call to downstairs, and a bit of explanation, led to the hotel removing the charges for all the phone calls under a minute, so while I still got charged for a 3 minute call and a 7 minute call, I now had 150 fewer reasons to fret. Yup - I almost got charged $150 more to reach my mum's answering machine.
Once packed and downstairs, I chatted with some other writers who were also on the way out before taking the early shuttle, where I chatted with two awesome writers (whose names are probably in my mountain of business cards but my brain has utterly forgotten). One of them was a regular contest judge, and said it's a great way to practice towards being an editor.
She was one I told about a weird occurrence during the conference. Sometime (I think Saturday), I was talking about the plot of my book with some First-Timers, and a woman walked by and said, "Oh, The Duke of Snow and Apples! I loved reading that!"
"Um," I said, "How could you have possibly read a manuscript I didn't send out?"
"Oh, when I ..." This was was her face clouded over, and she mumbled, "judged it..." and walked away.
The judge I was speaking to on the shuttle said that was a pretty good sign, the fact that the other woman remembered a) the plot and b) the title attached to said plot (I hadn't mentioned the title talking to the other conference-goers) c) a long-ass time after I sent it in - my only recent contest was The Emerald City Openers Contest, back at the start of June.
As it turns out, I was informed a few days ago by the ECO that I didn't place, but still! It was nice to know that someone remembered and enjoyed my manuscript so well!
I arrived at the very crowded madhouse that is the Orlando International Airport in good time, only to learn my Delta flight was going to be delayed by half an hour. Great. Getting on the plane, we were further delayed by another hour thanks to another thunderstorm. I used to love air travel and thunderstorms, but right now we are so not speaking to each other.
And the flight itself was hell - however, unlike last time, it wasn't due to incompetence but thanks to sheer bad luck. I felt awful, not to mention embarrassed, as I shuddered by the window, sneezing and sneezing and honking into a rapidly-dwindling supply of kleenexes. I think by the end of the flight I had to use the napkins provided by the flight attendants - who were incredibly rude on this flight. I asked the male flight attendant for something, but it turned out he was going in the wrong direction, he said so, then he snapped at me sarcastically, "So what do you want, then?" I said, "Nothing, no thank you," which somehow made him more angry so despite my protests he forced a glass of water onto my tray and stalked off.
On the plus side, I managed to write a bit of my first draft for Lord of Dreams, the second book in my Seven Dowagers series, on the plane.
I arrived in Minneapolis late but still with time until my connection. I hobbled off to buy more kleenexes, and finally decided to purchase a travel pillow. I then bought a sandwich.
The sandwich. You hear people talk about comfort food. You know, the homey, familiar stuff you have all the time, like mac n' cheese or meatloaf. I define comfort food a little differently - the food you have at a point in time when everything feels like it's going wrong and the food is the only thing going right, so you glom onto it like a life preserver.
This sandwich was my comfort food after a looooong and trying day. It was just a cheesesteak from Quizno's, but I was cold and achey and sneezy and it was warm and steaky and cheesy. The food equivalent of a hug. Sorry, Earl of Sandwich, but this cheese steak, on this particular day, was the world's greatest hot sandwich.
Praise Jesus, the flight to Edmonton was on time, and my travel pillow really helped - I will bringing one from now on. I made it to Edmonton at 11:30 pm, and Customs was surprisingly quick - I'd priced and listed all of my swag beforehand, so other than the GST I'll have to pay on my books, I was all set. I took a taxi home and collapsed into bed, my RWA adventure over, but with a whole year in which to get The Duke of Snow and Apples read and The Lord of Dreams written.